Trans Fat


In last weeks blog entitled “Just Say No…”, I advised staying away from consuming high fructose corn syrup and trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils).  That was a good introduction, but this issue is not as black and white as you may think.

For simplicity reasons, I am going to take the liberty of characterizing trans fat into two categories.  There are natural and unnatural trans fats out there for us to consume.  The unnatural manmade trans fats are what you should be looking to eliminate from your diet.  These are the partially hydrogenated oils that food manufacturers create from natural vegetable oils.  The hydrogenation process takes these healthy oils and transforms their chemical structure to a form that not only takes their health benefits away but actually makes them very hazardous to your health.  Natural trans fats are found in certain animal fat and milk (don’t be alarmed because these trans fats are found in such small quantities). 

Tests have shown that trans fats not only increase your bad (LDL) cholesterol but decrease your good (HDL) cholesterol.  Because of these findings, the National Academy of Science has concluded there is no safe limit of trans fat consumption.

Finally, as of January 2006, the FDA now requires that trans fat be included on every nutrition label, but there are a few details to be aware of.  I still recommend scanning the ingredients list for partially hydrogenated oils for two main reasons:
1.  Companies were allowed to petition the January 2006 deadline, so the trans fat line might still be missing on some nutrition labels (it seems to reason that the companies that need an extension are the ones that have something to hide)
2.  Trans fat can be listed as zero as long as there is less than 0.5 grams per serving (this might not seem like a lot, but remember there is no safe limit for these unnatural trans fats)

There is a little theme that I would like to point out to finish up.  It seems like there is more and more evidence showing that natural usually is better than unnatural.  This is very evident in nutrition, but it seems this rule can almost be applied universally.  Just like partially hydrogenated oils (unnatural trans fats) are unnatural, so is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  We’ll have to explore the health implications of HFCS in a future post.

  1. I just wanted to say thank you Garrett for sharing this great info about trans fats.  I’ve always heard we should stay away from them but I never really understood how and why they were so bad.  Consequently, I sometimes cheat and buy foods that contain trnas fats.  Now I will make a much greater effort to stay away from them and do some more research of my own.

    Comment by Cassie  on  8/31  at  6:04 pm


  2. One of the programs in Weight Watchers is called Core, and the idea is that you only eat whole, natural foods.  Essentially you can eat as much as you want if you only eat whole foods and you will lose weight.  Stay away from sugar and anything with artificial ingredients, especially prepared foods. I’m not so good at this, but I know it works for a lot of people.

    Comment by Denise aka The Blog Squad  on  9/04  at  9:07 am


  3. Boo Hoo. I just checked the labels on some foods in my freezer and found out the Nutri-Grain Eggo Waffles have a gram of transfat. Thanks for reminding me how much I want to avoid these.


    Comment by Sandra Ahten  on  9/05  at  5:10 am


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